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Transport Submarines Transportnye Podvodnaya Lodka PLT

From the early 1940s to the ultimate collapse of the USSR, the Soviet Navy pushed its submarine design bureaus to develop submarines specifically for troop and cargo transport. While many of these "submarine LST" concepts were not pursued, the effort offers a fascinating look at the technical challenges and strategic thought inherent in modern submarine design.

In the early 1950s, the USSR elaborated designs for Arctic submarines for delivery and landing to capture enemy aviation bases as well as intermediate air stations for Soviet bombers aimed at US. While this idea was not realized due to technical reasons, today such a fleet is possible. Was the collapse of the work on transport- under-ice vessels logical? For the mid-1950s, undoubtedly yes. Without nuclear power plant such projects were just technically unfeasible. The real prerequisites of the creation of landing and transport submarines were outlined. But these projects were not implemented. Into the 1960 and 1970's in the USSR and the USA the basic efforts were concentrated on the reinforcement of fleets of atomic rocket and multipurpose submrines. Things changed in the late 1980s and early 90s, which saw the entry into force of the strategic arms limitation treaty. Sides approached the dismantling of the rocket sections of some boats of the first and second generation. Since ships can serve still numerous years, the case for the return to the undisposed projects occurred.

One such scenario, in the Winter 1953: Life at the American airbase in Greenland was as usual: radars, take off and get heavy-thick cigars, powerful flying fortress. Suddenly hundreds of troops in camouflage assaulted aerodrome facilities. And on the runway, overtaking them free from any direction, popped up T-34 tanks which suddenly opened up with gun fire. After a few minutes everything was finished; pilots and technicians were standing with their hands up. Some time later, again came to life at new one after the other aircraft had landed, but now they are not white but red stars. Bombers refuelled and took a course on purpose. This was not a Hollywood screenplay of former members of the "red". This worked on military generals and admirals, the plans of these operations were in a folder marked "top secret" is of particular importance.

With the beginning of the Cold War there was established around the Soviet Union a network of American troops and airbases in Norway, England, Italy, Turkey and Japan. American bombers, working with them to reach many sites. In turn, the USSR had no military bases near the US and could retaliate only from its territory. The short cut for Soviet bombers was across the Arctic, but then, due to insufficient range, they were unable to come back. Therefore a project was undertaken to organize intermediate air-to-air points in a course from "there" and "back".

Airfields were set up on the ice near the poles and the Arctic islands. The ideal situation would be seizing American avirbases. But how can this be? Sending icebreakers was unlikely due to the absolute dominance of the United States and other NATO countries sea fleets. Best to use underwater vehicles.

In August 1965 TsKB-16, later Rubin, was directed to respond to the Tactical-Technical Elements (TTE) requirement for a large diesel-electric submarine LST designated Project 748. The design bureau, realizing the limitations of conventional propulsion for this submarine's missions, additionally initiated nuclear-propelled variants.

Six variants of Project 748 were developed with surface displacements from 8,000 to 11,000 tons. Most variants had three separate, cylindrical pressure hulls side-by-side, encased in a single outer hull. The first variant met the basic TTE; the second variant carried a larger number of PT-76 amphibious tanks; the third variant had VAU-6 auxiliary nuclear power plants; the fourth variant had two OK-300 reactor plants generating 30,000 horsepower; the fifth variant had the VAU-6 system with a single pressure hull; and in the sixth variant the OK-300 plant was replaced by four VAU-6 units.

This large submarine could carry up to 20 amphibious tanks and BTR-60P armored personnel carriers, and up to 470 troops. In addition to a torpedo armament of four bow 21-inch torpedo tubes with 18 to 20 torpedoes, the submarine was to be fitted with anti-aircraft guns and surface-to-air missiles. And, of course, the submarine could serve as a minelayer.

TsKB-16 recommended proceeding with the fourth (nuclear-propelled) variant. Still, construction was not initiated because the Navy, Ministry of Shipbuilding Industry, and General Staff of the Armed Forces ordered a review of the features of Projects 632, 648, 664, and 748 in an effort to develop a "ubiquitous" or all-capable nuclear submarine. TsKB-16 (now named Volna) was directed to develop a preliminary design for the submarine designated Project 717.

It is clear that this is very sensitive and kept secret. Nevertheless, the Western press briefly addressed the American missile-carrying submarine SSN-609 "Sam Houston" and SSN-611 "John Marshall", of the type "Ethan Allen", were transformed into military transport. Subsequently, four Ohio-class Trident submarines were converted into special forces units. Today, nuclear submarines, both foreign and domestic, are already able to participate in "special operations" or, to put it simply, the clandestine landing in any area of the oceans.

Project 621
Project 626
Project 632
Project 648
Project 664
Project 748
Project 717
Project 927
Project 941M



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